The Cubs won the N.L. pennant in 1945. This was a fairly regular thing. Between 1906 and 1945 — a 40-year span — the Cubs won 10 league titles. They were seen as one of the premier franchises in the league and from the standpoint of a 1945 fan, there didn’t seem to be any reason the team wouldn’t win a few more championships over the next few years.
Well. As you know, that didn’t happen. The 1946 Cubs finished a distant third in the N.L. with 82 wins, then the ballclub dropped under .500 at 69-85 in 1947 and in 1948 finished in last place in the league, losing 90 games. It was the first 90-loss season in franchise history. Yet 1,237,792 paid to see baseball at Wrigley that year, just a bit off of the 1947 total. Fans might have still believed the Cubs would turn things around.
Yikes. No. 1949 started out bad — the Cubs were 15-22 at the end of May — and got worse. They were 11-20 in June and at one point lost 14 of 17.
That all leads up to the game profiled here, a 23-4 loss to the Reds July 6, 1949.
The Cubs, at that time, had allowed 23 runs just once in franchise history. And they won that game, 26-23 over the Phillies on August 25, 1922.
This one? Not so much. Starter Monk Dubiel (now there’s a great baseball name!) was injured on the second at-bat in the first inning and removed for Warren Hacker (not a great name for a pitcher). Hacker would later have several decent years (well, by 1950s Cubs standards, anyway), but on this day he got smacked for five runs in one inning of work. Dewey Adkins, whose 1949 season with the Cubs was his last in the big leagues, did him an out better by allowing five runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Doyle Lade, who threw five mediocre seasons with the Cubs, got hit the worst: nine hits and seven runs in 3⅔ innings. Bob Muncrief and Emil Kush each threw an inning and allowed runs. Walker Cooper of the Reds homered three times and drove in 10 of the 23 runs.
The six “gents listed as pitchers,” as Edward Burns of the Tribune called them, allowed 26 hits and seven walks and hit two batters. Cubs fielders made five errors, though just two of the Reds’ 23 runs were unearned.
Hank Sauer’s two-run homer produced two of the Cubs’ four runs.
Just 4,036 saw this Reds demolition of the Cubs at Crosley Field in Cincinnati on a Wednesday afternoon. The 92-loss Reds, who were almost as bad as the 93-loss Cubs that year, actually had 14 crowds smaller than that through the course of the 1949 season. It took the Reds a while, but by the mid-1950s they were better and they won the N.L. pennant in 1961.
For the Cubs, it would be quite a bit longer to wait to return to the postseason.